Tom Boonen has given Quickstep its fourth stage victory in the 2007 Tour de France. The top 10 in Castres is:
1. Tom Boonen (BEL) QSI - 178.5km in 4h25’32" (40.333km/h)
2. Erik Zabel (GER) MRM
3. Robert Hunter (RSA) BAR
4. Daniele Bennati (ITA) LAM
5. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
6. Bernhard Eisel (AUT) TMO
7. Sebastien Chavanel (FRA) FDJ
8. Nicolas Jalabert (FRA) AGR)
9. Robert Forster (GER) GST
10. Andrey Kashechkin (KAZ) AST
The three riders at the top of the points classification have taken the first three places in Castres. Boonen won by about a bike length but it’ll go to the photo for second place.
Erik Zabel was closing in on the green jersey wearer but Tom Boonen rode the perfect sprint to win his second stage this year!
The Quickstep team is in control but Dean is almost moving forward just behind Zabel...
Fedrigo just extended his had to thank Txurruka 1,200m from the line. The peloton caught them and the rush is on for the bunch sprint.
There are four blue Quickstep jerseys ahead of the green top of Tom Boonen. The leader of the points classification appears in control of the peloton with 1km to go.
The peloton is now 3km from the finish just 15" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka. It’s time to start picking which sprint specialist you expect will take out the prize in Castres.
Fedrigo and Txurruka are just 4km from the line but the pursuiters are likely to be the winners today. It’s two against a group of about 150...
The Credit Agricole team is now also up front of the peloton that’s 32" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka just 5km from the finish.
Fedrigo looks comfortable compared to Txurruka but they continue to swap fairly even turns at the front. Their advantage has, however, dropped to 37" with 5km to go.
The leads of Fedrigo and Txurruka is down to 48" and now a Quickstep rider has emerged from the peloton to start contributing to the pacesetting duties. They are 7km from the finish.
The pace of the peloton is rapid enough to claim a few victims. There are numerous riders dropping behind the bunch in the closing kilometers. The damage is being done by Lampre and FDJ who must be trying to set things up for Ballan and/or Bennati and Sebastien Chavanel, respectively.
Fedrigo is the only rider from the Bouygues Telecom team to have won a stage. That was in Gap on the eve of the 2nd rest day last year. He and Txurruka have been working well together but their lead is just 1’00" as they pass under the 10km to go banner.
The peloton appears destined to catch the two riders who have been in the lead since the 52km mark. The maximum gain of Fedrigo and Txurruka was 11’30" at the 85km mark. The lead is slipping from their grip... with the last time check putting them just 1’00" ahead of the peloton that has been led by Lampre and Francaise des Jeux since the top of Monte de la Jeante (at the 139.5km mark).
Fedrigo and Txurruka are 15km from the finish. Their advantage has dropped to 1’20".
The peloton is less than 20km from the finish. It is 1’45" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka.
Fedrigo and Txurruka are less than 20km from the finish. The peloton is still led by FJD and Lampre... less than two minutes behind.
With the peloton at the 25km to go mark, its deficit to the escapees is 2’10". If the current tempo is maintained, the capture should be around the 7km mark.
The Lampre team is still at the front of the peloton which is now just 2’15" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka. The FDJ team also has two riders contributing to the pace setting duties.
Fedrigo and Txurruka are 25km from the finish. They are 2’25" ahead of the peloton.
At the 148km mark the peloton is 2’40" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka. The teams near the front of the peloton are Rabobank, Caisse d’Epargne and Predictor-Lotto but the actual pacesetting is being done by FDJ and Lampre.
The bunch continues to be led by FDJ and Lampre. It is now 3’00" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka who are 30km from the finish of the 12th stage.
The leaders have a little over 30km to race to Castres. They are 3’20" ahead of the peloton which is at the 144km mark.
There are now two FDJ riders mixing it up with the Lampre boys at the front of the peloton. The French and Italian teams are still chasing a stage win this year and Sebastien Chavanel and Alessandro Ballan are the likely candidates for the work currently being done in the chase. The latest check had the bunch 3’40" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka.
There are now three riders from the Lampre team at the head of the peloton that is 4’15" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka.
Near the top of the 4th climb Mercado and Wegmann tangled together and went crashing to the ground. They are both back on their bikes and now racing through the following convoy about to rejoin the peloton.
Two Lampre riders are at the head of the peloton on the descent. They are 4’55" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka.
The points at the top of the final climb in stage 12 were won by:
1. Amets Txurruka (EUS) 20pts
2. Pierrick Fedrigo (BTL) 18pts
3. Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) 16pts - at 5’00"
4. David De La Fuente (SDV) 14pts
5. Thomas Dekker (RAB) 12pts
6. Mauricio Soler (BAR) 10pts
Popovych has led the peloton over the top 5’00" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka.
Soler has jumped ahead of the peloton near the top. He is being followed by Dekker, Popovych and David de la Fuente.
The bunch is less than 1km from the top. It is being led by Vladimir Karpets of the Caisse d’Epargne team.
The Montee de la Jeante is a category-two ascent. As it’s the final rise and ranked higher than cat-3, there are double points on offer at the top. The breakdown is: 20pts for 1st, 18 for 2nd, 16 for 3rd, 14 for 4th, 12 for 5th and 10 for 6th.
Amets Txurruka has led Pierrick Fedrigo over the top of the Jeante climb. They are now 48km from the finish of stage 12.
Fedrigo is now prepared to work. He’s come to the front of the escape and is now setting the pace for Txurruka. This duo are less than 1km from the top of the fourth climb.
For the first time in the last five kilometers Fedrigo has come to the front. The pace of the escape had been set by Txurruka for most of the Montee de la Jeante.
With the Liquigas team surrendering its place at the head of the peloton in the last kilometer, the deficit has dropped rapidly. At the 126.5km mark, the bunch was 4’50" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka.
The Caisse d’Epargne squad have sent a rider to the front of the peloton but there’s an ominious arrival also up front... three Astana riders - including Vinokourov - have come up on the right side if the road and near the lead of the pack that was 5’15" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka at the last check.
Ventoso and Burghardt have been dropped by the peloton.
The peloton is at the 125.5km mark with a deficit of 5’10" to Fedrigo and Txurruka.
Since the start of the 10.2km long Montee de la Jeante, the peloton has been led by Charlie Wegelius of the Liquigas team. The Caisse d’Epargne squad is moving up on the right side of the road while on the left there are the yellow jerseys of the Saunier Duval-Prodir squad.
The young Euskaltel rider who is in the escape today is doing most of the work on the climb. He has been at the front of the break for 67 percent of the last 10 minutes.
Francisco Ventoso has dropped behind the peloton to consult the race doctor. The Saunier Duval rider has been caught up in a number of falls and he’s now having his left hand treated. It is already bandaged and he appears to be in considerable pain.
The peloton is at the 122km mark and has a deficit to Fedrigo and Txurruka of five minutes exactly. The yellow jersey has moved to the head of the peloton for the first time since the neutral zone.
As the bunch began its ascent of the Montee de la Jeante, it was 5’15" behind Fedrigo and Txurruka.
One of the riders who crashed at the start of the stage, Stef Clement (BTL), has been dropped by the peloton early on the fourth climb.
The green and blue colors of the Liquigas team are still dominant at the head of the peloton yet the salmon pink of Predictor-Lotto is also present with Vansevenant now leading Evans through the town of Saint-Pons-de-Thormieres at the 118km mark.
The two escapees have begun the ascenty of the Montee de la Jeante. This is a 10.4km climb with an average gradient of 6.1 percent.
The average speed for the third hour is 37.9km/h; for the first three hours combined, it’s 40.1km/h.
The last time check has the two escapees just 6’15" ahead. The maximum gain of Fedrigo and Txurruka was 11’30" at the 85km mark.
Txurruka and Fedrigo’s advantage with the peloton at the 114km mark is 6’40". They have been on the attack since the 52km mark.
The counter-attack is over. There are now just two riders ahead of the peloton which continues to be led by the Liquigas team. The capture of Burghardt (TMO) was at the 113.5km mark.
Txurruka and Fedridgo are 7’15" ahead.
The counter-attacker has a slight lead on the peloton. Burghardt is currently 6’35" behind the two escapees and the peloton is at 7’05" at the 112km mark.
The Liquigas chase is having an impact. The latest check has the peloton 8’30" behind.
The peloton is 9’15" behind at the site of the second intermediate sprint and continues to be led by the Liquigas team.
1. Pierrick Fedrigo (BTL) 6pts/6"
2. Amets Txurruka (EUS) 4pts/4"
3. Marcus Burghardt (TMO) 2pts/2" - at 5’45"
The peloton is not yet at the site of the sprint but its deficit is about 9’55".
At the 96km mark, the counter-attacking rider Marcus Burghardt is 5’50" behind Txurruka and Fedrigo who are about to reach the second intermediate sprint.
The peloton is 10’25" behind.
The peloton is now being led by six Liquigas riders. The Italian-registered squad sent riders to the fore at the 85km mark when the advantage of the two escapees peaked at 11’35". The peloton is now at the 89km mark with a deficit of 11’00".
There are now four riders at the head of the peloton. ’Pippo’ Pozzato’s squad is the first one to show any interest in chasing down today’s escape. The advantage of Txurruka and Fedrigo is now 11’35".
The town that hosts today’s finish was the site of the end of stage one of last year’s Rud du Sud. Back in June last year, that race began in Narbonne and, after 162.5km the winner was Thomas Voeckler (BTL) who beat Julien Mazet of the Aubervillers 93 team by six seconds. In third place was one of the riders who was trying to get in an escape early today, Christophe Le Mevel (C.A) who was 2’14” behind Voeckler.
At the first intermediate sprint, the points were won by:
1. Pierrick Fedrigo (BTL) 6pts/6"
2. Amets Txurruka (EUS) 4pts/4"
3. Marcus Burghardt (TMO) 2pts/2"
The T-Mobile rider is 6’40" behind the leading duo.
The 167 riders remaining in the 2007 Tour de France represent 26 countries.
The breakdown is:
36 – Spain. Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (AGR) abandoned during stage one after a crash; Xabier Zandio (GCE) abandoned during stage four because of injuries sustained in a crash in stage one. Oscar Freire (RAB) and Rubens Lobato (SDV) didn’t start stage seven. Igor Anton (EUS) abandoned during stage 11.
31 – France. Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ) didn’t start stage five after fracturing his elbow in a fall early in stage four. Geoffroy Lequartre (COF) didn’t start stage six after being caught up in a crash in stage five. Romain Feillu (AGR) abandoned during stage eight. Cedric Herve (AGR) finished outside the time limit in stage eight. Sylvain Calzati (A2R) abandoned during stage 11.
18 – Germany. Patrick Sinkewitz (TMO) didn’t start stage nine.
15 – Italy. Enrico Degano (BAR) abandoned during stage seven. Danilo Napolitano (LAM) finished outside the time limit in stage eight. Alberto Ongarato (MRM) crashed at the stage of stage 12 and abandoned shortly afterwards.
13 – Belgium
7 – The Netherlands
5 – Switzerland and USA. Dave Zabriskie (CSC) finished outside the time limit in stage 11.
4 – Kazakhstan, Great Britain. Mark Cavendish (TMO) abandoned during stage eight.
3 – Austria.
2 – Belarus, Luxembourg, Norway, Ukraine, Australia and Colombia. Brett Lancaster (MRM) abandoned during the fifth stage. Michael Rogers (TMO) abandoned during stage eight after crashing and dislocating his right shoulder. Stuart O’Grady (CSC) abandoned during stage eight after crashing and breaking five ribs, dislocating his AC joint and sustaining numerous other injuries. Robbie McEwen (PRL) finished outside the time limit in stage eight. Ivan Parra (COF) abandoned during stage eight.
1 – South Africa, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden
Lithuania had one representative but Thomas Vaitkus didn’t start stage three because of a broken thumb sustained in a crash at the end of stage two.
The average speed for the 2nd hour in stage 12 is 39.0km/h. The average for the first two hours combined is 41.2km/h.
At the top of the Col du Buis (74.5km) the points were won by:
1. Amets Txurruka (EUS) 3pts
2. Pierrick Fedrigo (BTL) 2pts
3. Marcus Burghardt (TMO) 1pt - at 6’25"
The peloton reached the summit 8’35" behind the escapees.
Txurrak and Fedrigo are about to contest the sprint at Herepian at the 81.5km mark.
After using clever tactics to outwit Salvatore Commesso to win the 14th stage of the 2006 Tour de France (on the eve of the second rest day, in Gap) Pierrick Fedrigo has won just one more race. It was a stage of the Tour du Limosin in August. He finished that four-stage race in second overall, one second behind Leonardo Duque of Colombia and four seconds ahead of the Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro.
Amets Txurruka led Pierrick Fedrigo over the top of the Col du Buis.
The peloton is currently 6’30" behind Txurruka and Fedrigo.
Txurraka and Fedrigo are now near the summit of the third climb of the 12th stage. They have been on the attack since the 52km mark. The "col" du Buis is 2.6km long at an average gradient of 4.8 per cent. The summit is at the 74.5km mark.
They lead Burghardt (TMO) by 5’35".
The two escapees have pushed their lead on the peloton up to almost five minutes. Marcus Burghardt (TMO) is ahead of the apathetic bunch but he looks to be in a state of flux: should he chase of relax like the rest of the peloton...?
Txurruka and Fedrigo have pushed their lead up to 3’15". The peloton appears completely uninterested in chasing down the two escapees.
Of the two riders with a lead of 2’20" on the peloton, Amets Txurruka is the best-placed in general classification after 11 stage. The Euskaltel rider began the stage ranked 35th overall, 22’37" behind Rasmussen.
Txurruka and Fedrigo have pushed their advantage up to 2’10" at the 62km mark.
Txurruka and Fedrigo look like being the two riders who the peloton has decided can get away today. There are numerous men in the bunch now opting to answer nature’s call and the advantage of the two escapees has grown to 1’25".
The chase appears to have been reeled in. Txurruka and Fedrigo are 1’00" ahead of the peloton. Alas, we cannot report on where the peloton is because that information is not crackling through race radio for the moment.
Casar and Steegmans are 40" behind Txurruka and Fedrigo. The peloton is 45" behind the two stage leaders.
Casar (FDJ) and Steegmans (QSI) are now attempting to bridge the gap to the two stage leaders.
There are now just two men ahead of the peloton. Txurruka and Fedrigo escaped at the 52km mark, they have a lead of 40".
At the top of the cote du Mas-Rouet (58km), the points were won by:
1. Amets Txurruka (EUS) 3pts
2. Pierrick Fedrigo (BTL) 2pts
3. Juan Manuel Garate (QSI) 1pt - at 40"
At the top of the 2nd climb, Txurruka and Fedrigo have a lead of 40" on the chasers and 47" over the peloton.
Gadret (A2R), Zubeldia (EUS), Le Mevel (C.A), Voeckler (BTL), Vogondy (AGR) and Garate (QSI) are now in pursuit of the two stage leaders.
The escapees began their move at the 52km mark (not 57km as reported in the previous flash). Txurruka and Fedrigo are near the site of the second climb (which peaks at the 58km mark) and have a lead of 45".
Fedrigo was the winner of the 14th stage last year when he beat Salvatore Commesso after being involved in an escape. The peloton almost caught the Bouygues Telecom riders, finishing just three seconds behind him in Gap.
Txurruka (EUS) and Fedrigo (BTL) are the only two riders ahead of the peloton. They began their move at the 57km mark. The peloton is currently 25" behind the Spanish and French riders.
Txurruka and Fedrigo are 20" ahead of Fofonov and Barredo and 25" ahead of the peloton.
Fofonov (C.A) and Barredo (QSI) are now in pursuit of Txurrka and Fedrigo.
Txurruka and Fedrigo lead by 15". The counter-attackers have been caught by the peloton.
Two riders have attacked the bunch at the 57km mark. Amets Txurruka and Pierrick Fedrigo are the men in the lead of the 12th stage. Gadret, Valjavec, Le Mevel, Wiggins and Perez are in pursuit of the two escape instigators.
Today will be the second time that a stage of the Tour de France has concluded in Castres. The town in the Tarn department was twice hosted a start of a stage but the only winner in Castres was Bruno Cenghialta who claimed his only stage victory in 1991.
Of the non-time trial stages in the history of the Tour de France, yesterday’s was the 10th fastest average speed. Robert Hunter’s winning time for the 182.5km stage to Montpellier was three hours, 47 minutes and 50 seconds - an average of 48.061km/h.
There have been no really successful breakaways in the 12th stage. The peloton is all together at the 47km mark.
The average speed for the first hour in stage 12 is 43.4km/h.
The last announcement from race radio hinted at an attack from Bernhard Kohl of the Gerolsteiner team but since then no information has filtered through. It would seem that the peloton is still all together; but we can say that the first half hour of racing has been done at a rapid pace and none of the early escapes gained much momentum.
Clement is back on his bike after the recent fall.
At the 33km mark the peloton was said to be approaching the seven escapees but we await confirmation on the move. We can, however, report that Stef Clement (BTL) has crashed in the bunch.
Ballan (LAM), Lefevre (BTL), Duenas Nevado (AGR), Scheirlinckx (COF), Beltran (LIQ), Tossato (QSI) and Millar (SDV) have escaped the bunch at the 32km mark.
“If we see another day like what happened in stage 11 things could be really interesting,” said the Australian who is currently ranked fourth in the general classification, Cadel Evans (PRL). “The final climb is pretty tough and I think we’ll see a selection of about 30 riders reach the top together but there’s a long road to the finish. It’s fairly technical but there’s enough time for those who get dropped to catch up.”
When contacted by LeTour.fr before the start of the 12th stage, Evans suggested that the terrain today could be tough enough to prompt a reshuffle of the top order. “It’s definitely more than just a transitional stage. We should expect anything and, of course, if Astana try a repeat, things could get really interesting.”
The bunch is at the 30.5km mark and there are still a number of escape attempts but the peloton is reacting to all the moves and nothing has been allowed any leeway.
The points at the top of the cote de Cantagal were won by:
1. Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) 3pts
2. David Millar (SDV) 2pts
3. Staf Sheirlinckx (COF) 1pt
Chavanel (COF) has tried to escape again but his latest attempt was rendered void at the 25.5km mark. The peloton is all together.
The peloton is all together again. The capture of the escapees was at the 23.5km mark.
The peloton is at the 22km mark and is 10" behind a group of four. Race radio has just re-announced the riders involved and suggested that Popovych (DSC) is involved. The details are hazy but it seems that the escape is doomed anyway...
The peloton continues to chase down every attack. The advantage of the leading quartet is just eight seconds.
Eisel (TMo) Perez (EUS), Moreni (COF) and Garate (QSI) are now trying to establish an escape.
There are riders from Barloworld and T-Mobile now trying to establish an escape group.
The peloton has caught up with the stage leaders at the 17km mark. Chavanel was the man to start it and he is insisting... but not for long. The peloton is all together.
The peloton is about to capture the eight escapees who are now just 10" ahead.
The rapid pace of the start of stage 12 has caused a number of riders to be dropped, including Ventoso (SDV). The bunch is at the 16km mark.
The crash victim Alberto Ongarato is being transported to hospital in Montpellier.
The peloton appears intent on reeling in the escapees who are now just 20" ahead.
Ongarato, who crashed at the 7km mark, remounted his bike but then consulted the race doctor. He has opted to call it quits and has abandoned. There are now 167 riders in the 2007 Tour de France.
Of the eight men who are currently 25" ahead of the peloton the best placed in general classification at the start of the day is Juan Manuel Garate (QSI). He is ranked 28th, 13’29" behind Rasmussen after 11 stages.
With the peloton at the 8km mark, it was 25" behind Merckx (TMO), Isasi (EUS), Wegmann (GST), Chavanel (COF), Garate (QSI), Grabsch (MRM), Navarro (AST) and Cardenas (BAR).
The fallen rider, Alberto Ongarato (MRM), has rejoined the peloton after his crash.
There has been a fall in the peloton. The rider involved is from the Milram team, Ongarato is the man who crashed.
The peloton is reacting to the escape and two riders from Liquigas are at the front of the main pack that is still 20" behind Merckx (TMO), Isasi (EUS), Wegmann (GST), Chavanel (COF), Garate (QSI), Grabsch (MRM), Navarro (AST) and Cardenas (BAR).
The eight escapees are now 20" ahead of the peloton.
The official start of the 12th stage was at 12.58pm. There are 168 riders in the race. Calzati (A2R) and Anton (EUS) abandoned during the 11th stage and Zabriskie (CSC) finished outside the time limit.
Merckx (TMO), Isasi (EUS), Wegmann (GST), Chavanel (COF), Garate (QSI), Grabsch (MRM), Navarro (AST) and Cardenas (BAR) have a lead of 10" at the 3km mark.
The flag has dropped to signal the start of racing in the stage from Montpellier to Castres. Sylvain Chavanel (COF) attacked almost immediately and he has been joined by Fabian Wegmann (GST).
Mario Aerts has crashed in the neutral zone. He has changed his bike and appears to be okay after the fall.
There are 26 men remaining in the classification that’s open to riders who were born after 1 January 1982. The white jersey will be worn by Alberto Contador (DSC) again today. He has a lead of 3’37” on Linus Gerdemann (TMO) and 3’41” on Mauricio Soler (BAR).
After claiming his first Tour de France stage victory yesterday, Robert Hunter of the Barloworld team has moved up from third in the points classification to second. The first South African to win a stage of the Tour is now just 11 points behind Tom Boonen (QSI). Today will be the Belgian’s ninth day in the green jersey this year.
Erik Zabel (MRM) slipped to third after failing to add any points to his tally in the 11th stage.
Boonen has 160pts, Hunter 149 and Zabel 144. Next in line is Hushovd (C.A) with 110, Sebastien Chavanel (FDJ) with 108, while the former race leader – and runner up in Montpellier – Fabian Cancellara is ranked sixth with 93 points.
Rasmussen (RAB) also leads the mountains classification with a tally of 98 points. The winner of the stage to Briancon, Mauricio Soler (BAR) is ranked second with 79pts. In third place is the winner of the youth classification of the 2005 Tour de France, Yaroslav Popovych (DSC, 70pts).
The polka-dot jersey will be worn by Soler in stage 12.
Michael Rasmussen will wear the leader’s jersey for the fifth successive day. The Rabobank rider has a lead of 2’35” on Alejandro Valverde (GCE), 2’39” on Iban Mayo (SDV), 2’41 on Cadel Evans (PRL) and the leader of the youth classification, Alberto Contador (DSC) is ranked fifth, 3’08” behind the Danish rider.
There was a reshuffle of the top 10 after stage 11: Christophe Moreau (A2R) dropped from sixth to 14th after being caught behind the lead peloton on the road to Montpellier. Carlos Sastre (CSC) is now in sixth 3’39” behind Rasmussen.
The peloton is currently rolling along in the neutral zone and on its way to the official start on the outskirts of Montpellier.
The 12th stage of the 2007 Tour de France is scheduled to begin at 12.40pm. The itinerary for the race from Montpellier to Castres includes four climbs: three cat-4 ascents – the cote de Cantagel (at 27.5km), cote du Mas-Rouet (58km), col du Buis (74.5km) and the cat-2 Montee de la Jeante (130.5km).
The intermediate sprints will be in Herepian (81.5km) and Olargues (101km).
The conditions in Montpellier are overcast but it’s not expected to rain. There was a light drizzle in Castres early this morning but the roads are now dry and although it’s cloudy it is expected to clear by the time the riders reach the beautiful town in the Tarn department.
There is a 8.4km neutral zone before the riders reach the site of the official start. This is expected to be at about 12.55pm.
Live coverage of the stage will commence soon.